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BRUSSELS, January 30. /TASS/. Imposition of more economic sanctions on Russia will be ineffective, Slovenian Foreign Minister Karl Erjavec said Thursday after an emergency meeting of the top diplomats of the European Union’s 28 member states.
"Further economic sanctions against Russia will be ineffective as they do not contribute to implementation of the Minsk agreements," Erjavec said.
At the same time, the minister did not rule out toughening of sanctions should the situation in Ukraine deteriorate.
He said the EU increases its pressure on Russia but to a smaller degree than initially planned.
The top diplomats of the 28 EU member countries decided on Thursday to extend individual sanctions against Russia and eastern Ukrainian militias.
The positions of Russia and Western nations and Kiev on the Ukrainian developments differ radically. Russia has repeatedly denied any involvement in the intra-Ukrainian crisis, but the West and Kiev accuse Moscow of "annexing" Crimea and participation in clashes in Ukraine’s war-torn southeast. Western nations have subjected Russia to sanctions.
Russia has constantly dismissed accusations of "annexing" Crimea, because Crimea reunified with Russia voluntarily after a referendum in mid-March 2014, as well as allegations that Moscow could in any way be involved in hostilities in the southeast of Ukraine.
Kiev’s military operation designed to regain control over the breakaway parts of the Donetsk and Lugansk regions in Ukraine’s southeast on the border with Russia, which call themselves the Donetsk and Lugansk People's republics, conducted since mid-April 2014, has left thousands of people dead, brought destruction and forced hundreds of thousands to flee.
The parties to the intra-Ukrainian conflict agreed on a ceasefire during talks mediated by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) on September 5, 2014 in Belarusian capital Minsk two days after Russian President Vladimir Putin proposed his plan to settle the situation in the east of Ukraine.
Numerous violations of the ceasefire, which took effect the same day, have been reported since.
Russian officials and companies came under the first batch of Western sanctions, including visa bans and asset freezes, after Russia incorporated Crimea in mid-March 2014 after the February 2014 coup in Ukraine.
Despite Moscow’s repeated statements that the Crimean referendum on secession from Ukraine was in line with the international law and the UN Charter and in conformity with the precedent set by Kosovo’s secession from Serbia in 2008, the West and Kiev have refused to recognize the legality of Crimea’s reunification with Russia.
The West announced new, sectoral, restrictions against Russia in late July 2014, in particular, for what the West claimed was Moscow’s alleged involvement in protests in Ukraine’s southeast.
In response, Russia imposed on August 6, 2014 a one-year ban on imports of beef, pork, poultry, fish, cheeses, fruit, vegetables and dairy products from Australia, Canada, the European Union, the United States and Norway.
New punitive measures against Russia were imposed in September 2014.